Safeguarding Lundy’s fragile nature – 50 years on

Published : 06 Sep 2019 Last update : 24 May 2021

Lundy is now one of Britain’s most precious island havens for both wildlife and people. But 50 years ago this remote, granite outcrop was in sad decline, only to be saved when gifted to the National Trust in 1969. Working in close partnership with The Landmark Trust, who manage the island on a day-to-day basis, an enormous amount has been done since then to protect and enhance Lundy’s wildlife and heritage, and work is underway to future proof this unspoiled place.

Escape to Lundy island

Lundy lies 12 miles off the North Devon coast and is just three miles long and half a mile wide. With no roads or streetlights, a mild climate and profusion of wildlife, it's an escape from the pace of modern life. This September, we're renewing our 50-year lease with The Landmark Trust, so that people can continue to visit and stay, and fully appreciate the magic of Lundy.


Safeguarding seabirds

Lundy in Norse means ‘Puffin Island’, and with its much-loved puffins and ‘must-see’ Manx shearwaters, the island has become home to the South West’s largest seabird colony. But back in the 1990s, the breeding pairs of these birds were in crisis – largely due to predatory rats. 


The turning point 

In 2002 an ambitious Seabird Recovery Project was set up by the National Trust, the RSPB, Natural England (then English Nature) and The Landmark Trust. The aim was to make the island rat-free and give the dwindling numbers of seabirds a chance. A new study this year has revealed that the total seabird numbers on the island of Lundy have now tripled to over 21,000 birds, with Manx shearwaters increasing to over 5,504 pairs and puffins to 375 birds.

To give extra protection into the future, in 2010 the sea around Lundy was designated the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). This zone overlaps with the Special Area of Conservation that protects the island’s reefs, sea caves and sandbanks, as well as its population of around 200 breeding Atlantic grey seals. 

Work is underway to future proof this unique and unspoiled place
A view of a beach on Lundy, with the National Trust plaque in the foreground
Work is underway to future proof this unique and unspoiled place

The recovery of the seabirds on Lundy is a huge step forward. The island is also rich in marine mammals, wildflowers, and wild and semi-wild grazing animals. 

" Monitoring and protecting rare species is a priority – from the Lundy cabbage, found nowhere else in the world, to wax cap fungi and small adder’s-tongue ferns. Introducing rich hay meadows while letting other areas go wild could add to the perfect patchwork of land that supports so much life and makes Lundy unique and important."
- Janet Lister, Wildlife Adviser

Caring for Lundy

A huge amount of restoration and repair work has taken place, including St Helen’s Church, the Beach Road, the jetty, the fog battery and all of The Landmark Trust’s 23 self-catering properties. Landmark also runs the Marisco Tavern - the hub of the island along with the general stores. Over 18,000 people visit the island each year on holiday or on a day trip, sailing on the island’s passenger and supply ship, MS Oldenburg, or flying out and back by helicopter during the winter months. 

To future proof Lundy we must continue to find new ways to protect and monitor its rare plant and animal life and also make it more self sufficient in its water supplies, waste management and energy sourcing. Lundy is exposed to the elements, and the impact of climate change must be addressed into the future.


We need your help

As well as being a haven for wildlife, Lundy is also one of the most important archaeological sites in the South West. This autumn,we're launching a fundraising campaign to raise £50,000 annually to support the future of Lundy – protecting this remarkable island’s wildlife, landscape and historic sites.

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